Some politician - and it doesn't matter which one - recently said that allowing gays to marry is a slippery slope to the day when assholes like him no longer have the power to tell you how to live your personal life. At least that's how I heard it.

Actually, I think he said something about gay marriage leading to *GASP* polygamy. And so I asked myself what's wrong with polygamy, assuming there aren't any child brides and cult overtones? I couldn't come up with an argument against keeping polygamy illegal. I'm not sure I've ever heard one.

Polygamy always gets conflated in the media with some sort of child-endangering, brainwashing, cultish pit of evil. But what if polygamy is just, for example, two dudes and one woman who work well as a trio? How does that hurt anyone?

Employee benefits, such as healthcare, would need to be adjusted in a polygamous world. You can't have one worker automatically qualifying for employee-paid healthcare for seven spouses. But that sort of thing is easy to tidy-up with legislation.

If anyone knows of an argument against polygamy, based on science as opposed to holy books, please let me know in the comments. And remember that polygamy can include one woman with multiple husbands. And just to keep things clean, assume the polygamous arrangement is based on practicality and not a religious belief.

This line of thinking made me wonder how one might organize society if there were no laws, customs and culture already in place. In other words, if no one had ever heard of traditional marriage with two people at the head of a nuclear family, what would be the most natural way to organize society? Are traditional marriage and polygamy even in the top five options?

I remember reading that people in arranged marriages were just as happy as those who married for love. That says a lot. And so I wonder: If you looked at every human society, past and present, and studied their marriage and social organization, would you find one model that just sticks out as working best? And what would it be?

Who knows the answer to that?

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Jul 2, 2013
OK, here's a logical argument against Polygamy. There are 24 hours in a day, 7/wk, 52 wk/yr. There is a limit to how much time a "set" of parents can provide for children. Given: Children need to be raised/trained/taught by their parents during their formative years to yield optimal individual performance. Therefore: More than one group of sets of parents using one single male or female partner with multiple male or female partners ((x,1)(x,2)etc.) will reduce the amount of time available for each child resulting in less than optimal yield.
In other words, If Daddy has 4 Mommy's, his kiddies won't get to see enough Daddy to become well rounded humans. Now if Mommy has 4 Daddys, kiddies aren't going to see enough of Mommy because all the Daddy's are going to be seeing Mommy. Leaving the kiddy not a well rounded human being.. How bout it? Now, can I get an AMEN!!!! LMFAO!!!
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 2, 2013
So you called a man an a-hole for saying that gay marriage would lead to polygamy, and then started a discussion arguing for polygamy.

On behalf of the internet, I would like to grant you a 4th degree blackbelt in trolling. Very well played, Mr. Adams.

[You must be new here. At this blog we call it thinking. -- Scott]
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 2, 2013
@EMU good points. It seems I missed out a traditionally in there somewhere.

As to says who? I guess that's the crux of the whole argument isn't it. One side saying we should say so and the other saying not. Of course since, as a society we've pretty much abandoned the idea of legitimacy of children being of any importance, it's effectively moot anyway.

As to the whole animals are OK thing, it's not really analogous though as animals don't handle inheritance of property in quite the same way.
Jul 2, 2013
What I find amusing in the same-sex marriage debate (for the record, I am adamantly in favor of it) is the lengths to which some of its proponents will go to prove that it will not lead to polygamy, to the point of weakening their own arguments in the process. I don't know if they are really against polygamy or just afraid that being tarred with that brush will kill the momentum.

Personally, I'm all for polygamy. I think any fear that it will lead to abuse of the system is overblown. In the age of Big Data, it would be possible to detect when a group of people get "married" purely for the benefits, as opposed to being in a truly polygamous relationship. Single people have different spending patterns than married ones, for one thing, and benefit cheats would spend more like single people. I think the amount of effort required to effectively mimic a true polygamous relationship would be enough to dissuade most people from trying it -- in the end, it would probably be cheaper and easier to just earn the benefits yourself.

Frankly, one of the greatest benefits of promoting polygamy is that it will move us further down the road of breaking the stranglehold of religion on our country -- and I use "stranglehold" there almost literally. Religion cuts off the air supply of reason, logic and humanism, qualities in desperately short supply.
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 2, 2013
»I would say that evolutionary psychology makes the combination "one man - several women" much more common than other combinations. Which adds up to a lot of lonely frustrated males...«

That's true, unless the men are killed in some war, marrying many women might lead to a society where a woman has to wear a burka and to not leave the house in order to not be raped.

OTOH, if there is no (resulting/existing) unbalance and as long as it's not just an excuse for f*'ing everyone you please, I think if you want to live like a family, you should be allowed to.

Read also: Robert A. Heinlein - The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Jul 2, 2013

Seems to me that sometime in the last fifty years, mankind decided that they had become too civilised and would now start swinging the other way.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 2, 2013
I would say that evolutionary psychology makes the combination "one man - several women" much more common than other combinations. Which adds up to a lot of lonely frustrated males...

[Seems sexist to limit a woman's freedom to marry into polygamy if she chooses just to protect the options of some hypothetical man who wants more options for available women. -- Scott]
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 2, 2013
Polynesia. Appropriately named.
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 2, 2013
G33v3s: "....one thing that most people seem to ignore when discussing the changing face of marriage is the central point [...] that is that marriage is NOT about two adults deciding to commit or whatever but that it is fundamentally about children!"

Short question. Says who?

First and foremost, a marriage in the US is something regulated by law and therefore changeable via the democratic process. Part of it are government granted benefits (mostly tax stuff) and required obligations obligations (care for each other, even financially) and, since all US citizens are supposed to be equal before the law, any citizen should be able to decide freely whether to take the package or leave it.

So, what does this leave us with? Simple. Marriage is whatever a society makes it to be.

Kids: No married couple is required to produce children upon punishment of forced divorce (or any other sanctions). Being unable to produce children does not prevent marriage either. Furthermore it is not forbidden to produce and raise children outside of a family bound by marriage. (Somehow the other animals can do it completely without paperwork. Strange.) Therefore the children question is irrelevant to the marriage question.

In my opinion, in a democratic and free society the only limitation ought to be the the requirement of being able to consent informedly.
-3 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 2, 2013
Firstly, one thing that most people seem to ignore when discussing the changing face of marriage is the central point the less vitriolic religious objection to same sex marriage and that is that marriage is NOT about two adults deciding to commit or whatever but that it is fundamentally about children! Often more about heirs and continuing lines than any sense of care for the offspring, but still about children. And that is one theme that fits all of the less tasteful 'traditional' definitions of marriage that same sex marriage proponents like to bring up. Even all the slave owning, harem running, many wives examples where always concerned with producing heirs and their inheritance rights.

Why did kings and powerful people of old have many wives? In order to be sure of producing an heir to keep power / wealth concentrated in a familial line. This is also why polygamy is more likely than polyandry, since it is possible for one male to father many children with multiple wives simultaneously. One woman can have children by multiple fathers but how much resentment would build up over the year or so while the woman is baring and then caring for the new born. Laws etc... could conceivably be built up around all children of a poly relationship being equal, but it isn't hard to imagine favouritism for biological offspring and resentment towards non-bio children. Through multiple races into the equation (as I would assume that anyone favouring poly relationships isn't really going to role back the civil rights record :) ) and you wouldn't even be able to kid yourself that you were ACTUALLY the father.

Put it another way, do you own anything? Would you rather that stuff were given to your child or just to the gov'mnt?

While we're at it, if marriage is only about two (or more) adults and procreation is off the table, is there any argument against marrying ones adult same sex sibling? Or being in a poly relationship with your sibling? Besides the fact that we may find it 'icky', what is the argument against it? and if just that it is 'icky' then why is some right wing republican's objection to same sex marriage less valid even if just based on his personal objection to the idea of same sex relations?

For the record, on a personal note, I have no problem with same sex relationships and believe every one should have equal rights. I'm undecided on whether saying you are married to someone else is a right. I think poly relationships are a recipe for disaster no matter what your initial intentions are. I think incest is extremely icky. All of these feelings are no basis for making laws. Legislating on 'love' is foolish in the extreme. I have long been a proponent of governments getting out of marriage all together and instead having some sort of difficult to dissolve partnership which provides all of the current rights and protections of marriage without saying anything about who loves who and who is in any kind of sexual relationship. Love and marriage should be left solely to the jurisdiction of religions. I live in the UK where the current argument is less about the rights (as civil partnership has been legal for a few years and offers the exact same protections under the law) but the inherent equality in calling it marriage - to the best of my knowledge. Since from my point of view it's effectively a semantic argument anyway I don't really have a strong opinion on it.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 2, 2013
It's all down to religious people pushing their beliefs on other people.

Go watch "the atheist experience" on YouTube. It's some guys who sit in a studio and let religious people call them. The ignorance/bigotry of the average Christian is astounding yet they're almost in the majority in the USA.

(I especially recommend that YouTube channel to Scott...)

Religion is not harmless. Absolute separation of church and state should be the most important issue on any thinking person's agenda, yet no president who doesn't claim to be a Christian would ever get into office.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 2, 2013
Stovetop159: " Traditional marriage independently evolved in nearly every culture over and over throughout history."

So has adultery. Therefore -> natural tendency to polygamy.
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 2, 2013
I don't think polygamy should be forbidden by law.

On the other hand, if someone /wants/ monogamy (or any particular configuration involving a somehow defined set of people) and can get the partner(s) to agree, there should be a legal framework to enforce this, therefore marriage contracts should become more important.

Personally I think jealousy will limit polygamy. Even in muslim societies, where this is pretty much institutionalized, women aren't very happy when they have to share and, with the years, slip slowly out of favour.
Jul 2, 2013
The argument against polygamy, based on science, is that the number of man is nearly equal to the number of woman. Do the math.
+19 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 2, 2013
Go read "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein. In it, he describes at length the concept of a "chain marriage" which is a version of polygamy.

And I'm surprised Scott didn't expound upon the virtues of having multiple mothers-in-law.
+28 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 1, 2013
I think the main problem would be rich men hoarding all the best women, leaving too few women available to domesticate the remaining men.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 1, 2013
This is partly a curiosity and party a note to ComfyOne. I have always been curious; often times societies in colder climates found it convenient to live more people to an abode. For example the Iroquois and other northeastern American natives lived in what were called long homes, that could easily hold as many as 50 people. This was also true for the Celts, Teutonic and Norse tribes. For sure part of the reason for this was that heat was very very precious. So people didn't mind huddling together, and it took fewer fires and less firewood. But this raises the question of what were the bounds of propriety between multiple men and multiple women. Was it strictly hands off someone already committed, or lots of exceptions with special rules? For example could a person freely have sex with the sibling of his/her normal mate? Could that only be done if one brave was out warring and unavailable, or when a woman could not bear children?? Romans complained that Celtic men would rather sleep with each other than Celtic women. Was that because their women were unusually...er....rough...or was something of the times, like Greek warriors often using each other? Roman men sometimes preferred men because the local women were often betrayers....in one's sleep.

Also in much of history marriage was a financial/political relationship, to establish heirs and to pass property between generations. Many men and women had oben consensual sexual relationships outside marriage and it was...er.....accepted.

Lastly, I once read (sorry I cannot seem to locate the book) that lust is what brings two people together......but love it a conscious decision that requires work and energy. In normal western society, without the lust there would be less opportunity for two people to decide to commit to one another...all those nasty habits of the partner become too big a deals. I am not familiar enough with non American/European cultures to know what happens when one gets committed, often by the elders, without lust. Perhaps that is why the Kama Sutra was created. Lust an be created by technique as well as appearance. Heaven forbid 21st century Mericuns put anything above appearances (oh my isn't Jennifer looking damn good for her age, over and over and over and over again.)

Jul 1, 2013
How did marriage become a civil matter in the first place? In my mind it is a religious institution. As such, it should be up to a particular church or religious (or non religous) organization whether to recognize gay marriage, polygamous marriage, etc. But it should not have any bearing on tax status, inheritance laws, etc.

I suppose the thought is that it is better for society and/or children to have stable marriages, and traditional family units, but creating laws to govern them gets into the "slippery slope" because then the government has to decide what type of marriage is better for society and children. I have my opinion on that, but I wouldn't necessarily try to impose it through legislation.
Jul 1, 2013
Scott, what does your wife think? ;)

I think polygamy is fine, for those that want it. Why should anyone care what happens between two or more consenting adults?
Jul 1, 2013
I think the (other guy's) premise was unsound in the first place. If the Government wants to maintain control over marriage, it has to maintain the moral high ground, which means not making discriminatory rules such as DOMA. The only realistic alternative is to give marriage no legal recognition at all, in which case you can no longer legislate against polygamy.
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